fishless cycle, snails and mosquitoes...
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:11 PM   #1
lochaber
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fishless cycle, snails and mosquitoes...


So, I recently set up a 20XH, and I'm almost 2 weeks into the fishless cycle.
Dirted low tech with some driftwood. ~2" MGOPM, and ~1.5-2" flourite black sand.
Eclipse I twin lamp for light/filtration.

Have a couple anubias rubber banded/tied to the driftwood, a couple java fern, some marselia and micro sword (I don't have the full scientific names for all of them, and I don't have access to the partial list right now, so I've probably got the names wrong), a tiger lotus, a couple cabomba, and some ludwigia (not doing to hot right now), some pennywort, and a bunch of frogbit floating around up top.

After I got it all planted and filled with water, I noticed a couple minuscule ramshorn snails, and one decent sized pond snail. I'm kinda glad, I don't mind snails, and I'm all for diversity in the tank.

I wasn't sure if the snails would make it through the cycle, but so far it looks pretty good. I've been checking NH4, NO2, NO3 every night, and adding enough ammonia to bring it up into the 3-5ppm. Most nights it's at 0-1ppm when I check, and my NO2 tends to be around 2-5ppm. NO3 is almost off the charts, usually 50ish ppm, up to ~100 ppm.

I've been doing some partial water changes, both to reduce the NO2 and NO3, but also to cut down on the tannins (I'm getting a lot of leeching, both from the driftwood and the MGOPM), and pulling out the frogbit as it grows (I try to take out the uglier looking/dying ones).

Lately it looks like the pond snails had a mini population boom- there are dozens of tiny ones all over the place (again, I don't mind, and I'm glad something is in there to get at the algae on the glass and fungus on the driftwood), but I haven't seen any of the ramshorns for almost a week (until today, there was a pretty large one on the glass, and I think it may have laid eggs - there was a gelatinous blob on the substrate, and when I look at it closely, it looks like a tightly wound helix of transparent beads.

Unfortunately, when I was checking the water parameters the other night, I noticed a bunch of weird insects hanging around under the hood. They looked sorta mosquito-like, except not quite (sat hugging the surface instead of standing upright, wings looked a bit odd). I killed most of them, and again last night when I did a water change. Then today I noticed a mosquito larvae diving when I walked up to the tank.

So... anybody have any suggestions on what to do about mosquito larvae? I figure I'm probably going to have at least another week or two before I can add fish, which would seem to be the easiest way to control them.

And as to snails, are they typically unaffected by the cycling process? should I wait till the cycle is over before trying to add Malaysian trumpet snails?

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Here's a pic of the tank I took shortly after set-up, sorry about the quality (the blue tape is from me trying to locate studs to put in anchors for earthquake straps and such)
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:41 PM   #2
iant
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I too love MTS. you may add it anytime. they are hardy snail. I accedentally introduced it in my tank from my friends gravel substrate even though I washed it with warm tap water. also when I get a population explosion, its my indicator telling me that the kids are overfeeding the fish lol. About the mosquito, they like to lay eggs on stagnant water so aerate or agitate your water a bit to keep them from laying more eggs and as to the larvae, it'll be a nice treat for your fish.

Last edited by iant; 02-14-2013 at 09:45 PM.. Reason: more explanation
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Old 02-14-2013, 10:39 PM   #3
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Are you sure it's mosquito larvae? I lived in Oakland for years and I can't ever recall seeing a mosquito. I often think about how nice it was to go outside any time of year without being swarmed. Plus it's mid-winter, so I think you have something else in your tank. Something like copepod,scuds or daphnia maybe?
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Old 02-15-2013, 01:46 AM   #4
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I'm fairly certain it's some sort of mosquito - it looks very similar to the general mosquito body-pattern, and the larvae look and act like mosquito larvae. the adults seem to have a slightly odd 'posture'

I do see mosquitoes here in Oakland, I'll get a couple in my apartment every month- not enough to make it worth the effort to bother with screens, and not as much as I've seen in Berkeley, but they aren't completely absent. But nowhere near as prevalent as they are over in the South of the US. Also, there is a chance that the plants I recently acquired could have had eggs on them, I really don't know.

If it's not a mosquito, it's something incredibly closely related, definitely a dipteran.

Does anyone know much about using Bacillus thuringiensis/Mosquito dunks? would there be significant risk to other critters/etc if I used a portion of one while my tank completes it's cycle?

I know fish love mosquito larvae, I used to feed them to an old friends community tank when I would find a stagnant puddle full of them, the neon tetras would eat so many they looked like they were about to burst, it was pretty entertaining And I wouldn't worry if I was close enough to the end of the cycle to add fish, but I've still got significant nitrites, so that's not an option yet.

Thanks for the input so far, and if anyone has had a similar problem, or has any advice, I welcome further input.
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